March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
Go Further with Food™ is the theme for 2018. Whether it’s starting the day off with a healthy breakfast or proper nutrition prior to an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a difference.
We are bombarded daily by news reports and television ads conveying the latest “research” and potential health benefits or harm associated with certain foods and beverages. In addition, advertisements and infomercials for foods and nutritional supplements further complicate the already complex field of health and nutrition.
Although people joke that information on the internet must be true, it’s frustrating and confusing when you are trying to understand the best approach to eating healthy and minimizing risk of disease development. The internet contains a vast array of accurate and inaccurate nutrition information. When you consider the fact that it’s estimated over 50 percent of chronic diseases in the United States are attributed to poor eating and exercise habits, misinformation is a serious problem.
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to what it means to eat healthy. So where do you turn for information on proper nutrition? It’s important to seek advice from someone who is trained to critically analyze the research and personalize an approach for your specific needs and goals.
Although anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, a registered dietitian/nutritionist (R.D./R.D.N.) must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics. His or her B.S. degree includes courses in chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, as well as human nutrition and medical nutrition therapy to understand the link between food, nutrients and disease.
Registered dietitian/nutritionists must also complete an accredited practice program involving direct patient care and counseling, and they must pass a rigorous national registration exam in order to use the credential R.D./R.D.N. Registered dietitians also provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT), which is nutritional diagnostic, therapy and counseling services for the purpose of disease management.
As nutrition experts, a registered dietitian/nutritionist provides personalized advice to help manage chronic disease, allergies and food intolerances. They can also support long term behavioral changes to promote sustained weight loss. These professionals are a valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information, and they are committed to helping people enjoy healthier lives.
Look to these sources for credible nutrition information:
Eat Right, the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Choose My Plate website
American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good
Pictured from left to right, starting with the front row, are Carroll Hospital registered dietitians Lauren Stierstorfer, Laura Lienhard, Pamela Xenakis and Krista McElwain. Back row: Katie Lyle, Mindy Athas, Barb Walsh and Andrew Kronmeyer. Not pictured: Erin Lewis, clinical nutrition director at LifeBridge Health.